Norway may have found its next king — or at least its king of the slopes.
A dominating performance from Mikkel Solbakken in the U16 men’s category led to Norway capturing the Whistler Cup with 235 points. The 15-year-old swept the podium, winning gold in slalom, GS and Super G, with at least a two-second cushion between him and second place in each race.
“It’s been a really good season. I’ve grown a little since last year and my technique, I think that’s really good,” said Solbakken, who skis with Bærums Skiklub. “I just tried to relax and not be so focused on the competition, until I’m in the start, then I focus.”
With the other skiers basically battling for second, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club had some strong performances over the weekend by Asher Jordan and Katie Fleckenstein as they helped Team Canada finish second in the points race with 153.
Jordan looked on his way to a top-five finish in the Super G before losing a ski. However he bounced back the following days finishing fourth in slalom and sixth in GS.
“It went pretty well. I just try not to overthink it. I had a pretty good time; the course was really bumpy but you can’t help it,” he said.
Fleckenstein came fifth in Super G and slalom and 12th in GS. The top women’s skier was Czech’s Nikola Bubakova, who won gold in GS and slalom. The Nancy Greene award for top Canadian woman went to Montreal’s Catherine Dufresne.
WSMC’s best individual performance came from Kyle Alexander for Team BC, who grabbed a bronze medal on the first day in the Super G with a time of 1:10.32.
“I knew the course really well so I was pleased to make it into the medals,” said Alexander. “It was a pretty bumpy ride skiing so late and I was a bit surprised I got on the podium.”
That run led to Alexander winning the Dave Murray Award as the top Canadian male skier.
The course held up fairly well despite unusual seasonal conditions. No racers had any real complaints, even when snow blew in Saturday afternoon, lowering the visibility and slowing up the course.
“I just attacked way more (the second run), I skied more free. I just decided I got one run out of the way, might as well just give ’er this run,” said Fleckenstein during Saturday’s snow squall.
The rest of the WSMC experienced highs, lows and everything in between over the weekend. Ella Renzoni put up identical 44.90 times in slalom and finished 25th despite losing one ski pole near the start of her second run.
“I just cross-blocked with my hand. It was interesting but I felt like I still skied pretty well,” said Renzoni.
She also finished 20th in Super G and 28th in GS. Teammate Mollie Jepsen finished 14th in Super G and 30th in GS.
For men, Kasper Woolley had a good weekend, finishing seventh in GS and 18th in Super G. Myles Kowalcyzk in his first year of U16, finished 24th in slalom and 32nd in GS.
“I’m happy with my performance; I think I would have been around second for kids my age,” said Kowalcyzk.
Masashi Tsutsumi finished 29th in a tough slalom course that 36 of the 88 racers did not finish.
One of the most heartbreaking moments of the weekend may have gone to Alexander Valentin. In his last Whistler Cup race, he was on his way to a top-30 finish in GS, but missed the very last gate.
“I was late coming down the top part. And then down at the bottom it swings a lot and I just didn’t have enough turn shape before that last gate to make it,” said Valentin.
He did manage a solid 17th place finish in Friday’s Super G though.
For U14s it was team Japan that claimed the Whistler Cup. For Whistler U14’s Maja Wooll ey finished eighth in slalom and 10th in GS.
Full results are available online at www.whistlercup.com.